Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bromance Banter with 'Franklin & Bash's Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Breckin Meyer...

It is no secret that I am still searching for my Zack Morris, but why settle for a version on the type when you can have the real thing?

Last week,
My Life, Made Possible by Pop Culture was thrilled to have to pull on real pants and work away from home because I was heading to winter press tour, and Turner Networks were previewing their new summer law dramaedy, Franklin & Bash, starring none other than Mark-Paul Gosselaar. I was so excited I posed with the poster. Yes, I'm a dork, but I own it, so that makes it less sad, right?

The panel was fun, but of course I wanted to get some extra time. I planned to do a formal interview with Gosselaar and his co-star (another 90s fave of mine, Breckin Meyer), but formal proved to be nearly impossible. As much as I wanted to present myself as a professional, those two have such dry, banter-like behavior a traditional interview turned out to be tougher to craft out of the transcript than anticipated. So instead, I just present to you the transcript of our conversation. I hope the humor and tone will not be lost since these are mere words. Hopefully I will get to chat with them again as it gets closer to the premiere of their show and that time I plan to catch it on camera! Maybe one (or both) of them would even want to take my "Wii with the Stars" challenge!

What made you want to work on a television comedy at this point in your career?

Mark-Paul Gosselaar: Well, I haven't ever really left television, though some may wish I did.

Breckin Meyer: I was like, 'if I'm going to do a show, I want it to be something I haven't done.' I haven't done an hour-long, and when I read this, I knew Jamie the producer, so when I read the script I was like 'I haven't done this!' It's fun, and there's comedy in that-- [Mark-Paul] brings that-- but at the heart of it, it's essentially a drama...about these two lawyers who have this great relationship, and that's what I responded to.

How did you guys cultivate that relationship? Did you know each other well before shooting?

B.M.: I knew Mark-Paul was on the gig, and I didn't know him well, but when we read together and when we sat down and danced a little bit, we had a really good rapport with each other.

Did you get to hang out with each other before shooting to help build on that?

B.M.: Before Atlanta...where we were locked in confinement [shooting the pilot] we had no time, really. We didn't have any time to get to know each other.

M-P.G.: Well, we went out for breakfasts, and you know, dated...We talked about playing Xbox a lot.

Here Gosselaar noticed Meyer was pulling things out of his pockets and tossing them onto the floor by our feet. He called him out on it and the banter began.

M-P.G.: What are you pulling out of your pants? That's disgusting.

B.M.: It's lint; it's nothing.

M-P.G.: Don't just throw it on the floor.

B.M.: It's fine; it's little threads. Someone will come by and vacuum it up. I think that's the one thing-- I'm a primadonna. 'Pick up my lint': I have someone for that.

M-P.G.: That's one of the hardest things about working on this show is working with his diva sort-of attitude.

B.M.: He's just now allowed to look me in the eye.

M-P.G.: Really? I didn't get the memo. I didn't know that at all. 'Cause I'm not looking at you.

B.M.: Well, you can. [Turns back to me to address the question]
We've both been doing this since we were around eleven or so, and we both have similar work ethics in that it's fun, but you're not goofing off. You show up prepared and then you can have fun...Right off the get go, when we showed up in Atlanta, we realized that about each other. 'Okay, I don't have to worry about him knowing his stuff; he doesn't have to worry about me; we're each others' safety nets. 'It's a two-handed performance.

M-P.G.: I like two-handers.

The pilot episode filmed in Atlanta, as you mentioned, but production then moved to Los Angeles. Do you think that adds an extra element to the series?

B.M.: The show takes place in LA and--

M-P.G.: LA is a character in the show--

B.M.: It had to be here.

M-P.G.: We really wanted it to be here. We're both family men; we both have kids; it's very important for us to be close to our family and work in an area where it's easily accessible.

Being fathers, does having young kids influence the roles you take these days?

M-P.G.: He doesn't give a shit about his kids so it's not an issue! [Laughs] He hasn't seen them in, like, nine months.

B.M.: The courts won't let me see them! And I'm checking in with Dr. Drew tomorrow for Celebrity Rehab.

M-P.G: No, they come to set and they know-- my son or daughter will say 'I'd like to be an actor.' I don't think they understand what that means, but the fact that you get to go and have fun, which it is, but they don't see the work part of it.

B.M.: There are times you'll pick a gig where 'Oh neat, I can do this movie that my daughter can watch because she can't watch Amy Smart on top of me nekkid.' And I'm not talking about in a movie; I'm just talking about my home life.

M-P.G.: [Shaking his head] I think I pick gigs based on the location. If it takes me away from my kids for too long, that's a no, and I tend to stay away from it.

What was it, then, about the Franklin & Bash script that spoke to you and made you want to do it, even though it was shooting initially away from your kids?

M-P.G.: When I was given the script to read...I didn't really want to play another lawyer.

B.M.: You played a lawyer before? Were you a lawyer on TNT? I'm not familiar...sorry.

M-P.G.: He was too busy with his film career...[Laughs] Oh, wait.

They both laugh for a minute.

B.M.: It's weird to talk about your own show because you sound like you're a whore, but the one thing I'm really confident about is the relationship between Franklin & Bash. That is the foundation of the show; the show lives or dies on that; and I think that's what [was the draw].

M-P.G.: The element of us being friends on the show, I didn't have that on Raising the Bar...

Mark-Paul, are you worried about comparisons to Raising the Bar strictly because of the genre and shared network?

M-P.G.: I don't think people will have a hard time watching this show trying to get Raising the Bar out of their heads-- you know, the two million people who actually watched the show. [Laughs] We do fight for our clients, and I think it's because we're "the attorneys that care" and want the best for our clients. We only take on the cases-- you talk about righteousness-- we believe they're not guilty or guilty with some reason.

B.M.: Yeah, there's a line in the thing about 'It's not about getting the wins; it's about getting the right wins.' I think the big thing for our characters is they want to represent the people who don't get represented...that's how we made our name in the law and why we opened our own firm.

Needless to say, I loved being let into the bromance, even for a few minutes! Thanks to my pal Jim for snapping a photo of our chat as he walked by on his way to lunch.

And of course I couldn't let Gosselaar go before hearing even just a tad bit about Saved by the Bell. When asked if he is surprised by the continued success of the series, even decades later (I managed to leave out the part about going home that evening to sleep in my SBTB PJ pants...) he had this to say: "The show didn't get legs until we finished shooting. It wasn't until we were in syndication that it really took off; we thought we were going to get canceled at the end of every season! So yeah, I am surprised. It tends to generate a whole new generation of viewers. I mean, we still have twelve year-olds now that are just finding it."

That has to be trippy. I wonder if his daughter has stumbled upon it one Saturday morning and if she knows it's her dad on that screen. Watching him chase so many different girls takes on a whole new meaning know that's your dad. Even if you know it's fake. Meyer may have said that his daughter can't watch his "nekkid" scenes yet, but really, that's not something she should ever see!

If Gosselaar comes to play Wii, I'll have to follow up on that note, though, as well as his plans for producing and directing, which he mentioned he may want to take on because he wants to be in this industry for a long time, however that may occur. I'm certainly glad he (and Meyer) will be back on my screen, but I'd watch something he worked on behind-the-scenes, too. That's the thing about growing up with someone: your bond is stronger and you'll stick by them no matter what!

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